Thursday, November 08, 2007

Decentralised European cooperation with Latin America

To mark the launch of the ‘Yearbook for decentralised cooperation’ the Barcelona based Observatory for Decentralised Cooperation EU-Latin America organised a half-day conference on November 7th at the Committee of the Regions in Brussels.

Representatives of the Observatory, the Committee of the Regions, EuropeAid (URB-AL) and of several local authorities from both Latin America and Europe participated in two panel sessions on ‘The present and future of EU-Latin America cooperation : what role for local governements and regions ?’

Since the role of local authorities in decentralised cooperation (DC) is often not well understood, the EuropeAid URB-AL programme aims to find and disseminate effective models of local policies to foster development and support the needs of the poorest in society.

It was underlined that it was only since 2005 that local authorities (cities, provinces, regions) were officially recognized as actors in decentralised cooperation and provided with the necessary instruments, budgets and policies to play an effective role in Europe-Latin America development cooperation. Apart from awareness raising about global issues and respect for cultural diversity in Europe, sharing of experiences, lessons and knowledge about local development was seen as an important argument to engage in DC.

The EU has become a convinced supporter of DC and local authorities are more and more seen as driving forces for change. Obviously, questions related to the value added of local authorities, complementarity between the various actors, and institution building are taken into account.

All speakers strongly emphasized social cohesion as the focus of the policies and actions. Components of this broad concept are creation of jobs, provision of basic services for all, fostering inclusive participation, and reducing the gaps between the various local and regional actors.

For more background information, see also Euforic's dossiers on governance, civil society, and Latin America